Okanvango Delta, Botswana
Okavango Delta Walking Safari and Wild Camping, Botswana
“Whatever you hear in the night, do not get out of your tent.” Were the words from our guide just before crashing for the evening. It was only a few hours later that we were awoken to the extremely near sound of animals, I could hear the leaves rustling, tree trunks squeaking and a low grunting. It was definitely the group of elephants we had seen earlier that day. This didn’t really bother me, until I heard the guide get out of his tent and try scare away the herd. In the morning it was explained that the elephant family had been pushing down trees around us and the guide was fearful for our tent being stuck by a fallen branch or trunk.
Wild camping, a boat ride and two walking safaris in the Okavango Delta were what we had signed up for and it was cheap! This was only the second walking safari I had done in ten years and it was just as exciting. There was a continuous scream of insects and different bird calls as we took the relaxing Mokoro ride, (boat carved from a tree trunk) up the river covered in reeds,water lilies and even a few reed frogs that can change their appearance like a chameleon.
The evening walking safari did not disappoint; we came very close to a herd of elephants that seemed very nervous of our presence as they fed on the nearby trees, you could hear the hippos in the distance and Orphan, our guide taught us some tracking skills and told us some animal myths. My favourite one was the reason why a hippo yawns;
The hippo was a carnivorous land animal until the other animals decided it was to be banished, so they set the hippo on fire. It ran to the river to put out the fire and decided from now on it was going to be a water based animal. Now god was not happy because he didn’t want the hippo to eat the fish, so as a compromise the hippo promised to frequently show God its open mouth as proof he would now only be vegetarian. This is apparently the REAL reason hippos yawn so often.
Having requested a closer encounter with hippos, the next day’s morning safari did not disappoint. In the mokoro boat, Orphan got closer and closer to a group of hippos lolling around in the water. He started to hit the side of the boat to draw the hippos closer, let’s just say a little too close! We had probably just come between a mother and her young as the hippos suddenly started to approach us quite aggressively. Orphan tried to hide us behind some reeds, but I was getting rather restless as I was the person in the front of the boat. Luckily the reeds gave way and we were able to retreat back to land and far away from one of Africa’s most dangerous animals.
For a cheap and very professional guide
Orphan (not a joke, this is really his name) has been doing this line of work for many years with large safari companies and is just starting his own tour guiding business, this is why you won’t find this trip cheaper with anyone else.